Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Kids are Fine! They're watching "The Disney Channel"

During a conversation with a friend of mine about his young children watching the Disney Channel -- he articulated well some of my concerns about this channel's programming. This is just one more chip on the stack of things that made me want to go TV-Free this summer.

In my, admittedly, middle-aged mind when I hear "The Disney Channel" -- I think Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Chip and Dale. But, in today's Disney Channel these have been replaced with Hannah Montana, Zach and Cody, and the Jonas Brothers. Hey! Kudos to the marketing machine that keeps churning out fresh faces using a tried and true formula. But -- remember parents -- this is not the Mickey Mouse Club that we remember.

Today, this channel seems obsessed with the teenage dating exploits of high-school aged children -- who's cute? who's kissing whom? How to handle a date with two girls at one time?

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Admittedly it's pretty tame by today's standards. I'm OK with it as long as the kids that are watching it are high-school aged or at least close to that. I'll even accept the 12 and 13 year-olds. But, what about 8, 9, or 10 year-olds? Back it up there Steamboat Willie, that's too young for this stuff..

Think I'm over-reacting? Maybe. But before you decide, go to the Disney Channel home page, and read the ticker messages and the age of the kids who are entering them. I'll wait.

All I'm saying is that if your kids are watching the Disney Channel -- have a seat next to them on the couch -- and judge for yourself whether the content is age-appropriate for your little Chip or Dale.

Weekly Status: Week #5

All's well in the TV-Free household. It's week 5 and we still haven't caved although I have to admit that I did watch some Michael Jackson videos on YouTube this week (as I'm sure many of us have). Two things came to mind. First, Michael Jackson was, at one time, an incredible entertainer. Second thing, YouTube really sucks lately -- I did nothing but wait for it to stream. So here's a couple of other video links I found: 1995 MTV Music Awards Performance and the Thriller Video.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


okay so in my last blog I had made hyperlinks to all of the ride information....well they didn't work very well so you can go to http://www.visitkingsisland.com/#actions to find them there or you can just go to one of my dad's posts and look at a few of the rides he put down...

sorry about the confusion,


I fixed your links for you, Shortie!! -- Dad.

Kings Island

Kings island....what a blast!

So over last weekend we went to Kings Island. I had said to myself on the way there that I will go on EVERY single ride. When we pulled in I second guessed myself "maybe not every ride."

So over the 13 hours we were there I made a list:

Top 10 rides at Kings Island,
4.Flight of Fear
5.Son of beast
8.drop Tower
11.Crypt(this ride sucks...don't take the time to ride it!)

I didn't go on drop tower , delirium or firehawk . They are put in the list because of everyone else says they are really good rides.

Overall, Kings island was a great trip and if you haven't ever been there,you should because it is a lot of fun.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Irish Attitude : A great little blog for fellow Dubliners

Hey, I just found this blog with some great Dublin area information. Some great Family Fun ideas here within a bike ride of my house. Enjoy...


Sunday, June 21, 2009

TV Free Family Fun: King's Island Amusement Park

I first visited King's Island when I was maybe eleven. That would have been 1974. In 1974, The Racer roller coaster was the big attraction. These days, my wife's company, Wendy's International, has a company day where we get heavily discounted tickets and take the family down for a day. The Racer's not quite as popular as it once was. There's really not much of a line for it these days. In fact, I think if you asked nicely, they'd let you actually operate this ride.

Yesterday, the TV-Free Family visited King's Island some 35 years after my first visit. We all had a great time. In some configuration or another, the family attempted just about every ride there was there. Our few favorites, were the DiamondBack, a new coaster this year. Every one of us agreed this coaster is by far our favorite, hands down. Even Momma (not a great fan of swirling, looping coasters) was impressed by its mix of fear, speed, and smoothness.

We also like the Drop Tower. I'll state this: Courage on the ground turns cold when your feet dangle at 264 feet high. I was good at 264 feet. I appreciated, though, that it did not go to 265 feet. I was plenty high enough when the bottom dropped out and the air left my lungs. The absence of air prevented me from screaming like a little girl -- and for that I'm thankful. Nothing can water down the "Courageous Dad" aura quite like a heart-felt squeal of primal fear.

My own father rode many of the rides back in 1974 and even later. But, when asked to ride some of the more adventurous rides, he imparted what I still consider to be good fatherly wisdom. I'm sure dad gave me lots of fatherly advice, -- "Buy low, sell high", "Spend less than you earn", "Early to bed.. Early to rise...", blah blah blah -- but it was many of the little, less common jewels that I remember most. On one of these occasions, he told me --

"At some point in your life, you'll reach an age where it's not a great idea to have your ass above your head."

Well, I have to admit that yesterday, several times, I found myself in this orientation, and while they were bearable, I'm not sure that I'd call them all that pleasurable. By my math, dad was 50 years old in 1974. I'm 46 this year. I haven't quite reached that point in my life where the "Ass Above Head" position becomes an issue, but I'm pretty sure that it's not all that far away.

When I hit that age, I'm sure that my two kids and their friends will coax and cajole me to ride with them on the latest corkscrew and loopy-loop thing that the park has to offer -- and I'll remember my dad's advice -- and I'll be reminded, again, of how smart my father was. Then, I'll ride it anyway, because I'm not nearly as smart as him.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there,


Weekly Status: Week #4

All systems normal again this week.

I will admit that Sunday afternoons, if you aren't prepared can get a little boring. There's a whole lot of "What to do?" type questions and the inevitable "I'm bored!" coming from the kids.

Today, we had to think a bit before we came up with something to do. We visited Darby Creek Nursery looking for a few bargain-priced perennials to fill in some spots. The blonde read a book all day -- and we had a little cookout for Father's Day.

Nothing big.. just normal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hello blogging people. :)

I haven't blogged in a while. So the other day I said to myself, "What the heck? Let's blog!"
Okay, here we go.

The other day as my father had stated in one of his blogs, I was not able to go to (yet another) festival. This was because I had a birthday party to go to and it was a sleepover. I was very excited to go to this party because....IT WAS SURVIVOR THEMED! OH YEAH!

So if you have no idea what survivor is, it's this reality show where, i think, they pick 18 contestants to compete against each other. The contestants are left "alone" to make a camp, find water, and food. The game lasts about 39 days. The last one standing gets ONE million dollars.

ANYWAYS, at the party there were 2 teams. When I got there we set up our tents in the back yard and then made are team flags. The we went straight into the challenges.

Our first challenge was dogdeball. My team one all but 1 out of 4 games. yay!

Our next challenge was a scavenger hunt where we we forced to decode the codes (The person who made all the clues and hid them all was on our team. She told us what the clue was when we were stuck on it. We cheated. Sorry.) Again, my team won.

The next thing was a bug eating contest. There was a tin placed in front of you with crushed Oreo's in it. In the Oreo's were gummy bugs. We were to pick up the gummy bugs with our mouths and drop them outside of the tin. But of course, there was a catch. NO HANDS. When we started we had 45 seconds to get as many bugs as we could. The girl next to me got 15(she was on my team so it's all good.). I sadly only got 9 cause the gummy's kept getting stuck in my braces. My team won. Again.

Next was a basketball shooting games. everyone shot once. The team who had the most baskets won. My team lost.

Then we had a water balloon fight. Now this got completely out of hand. We all started out with dry clothes. We all grabbed 3 water balloons, and started throwing them at each other. But when someone was still dry, everyone decided to get a cup full of ice cold water and dump it on you. i was dry because I didn't want to get wet. I was smart and stood on the porch instead in all the chaos. I think I was the only one who didn't get soaking wet that night.

After cake, ice cream, presents and putting on PJ's, everyone went outside and we played capture the flag. My team lost sadly, but everyone decided that we were going to play Court after. Now I really don't feel like explaining how you play Court, plus, it's really confusing.

After that we all went to bed.

the next morning I woke up to see my friend shooting me with a nerf gun. What a loser. Haha. Just kidding.

I had a lot of fun that night. :D

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Honey, I shrunk the Honey-Do List!

There's always been about a dozen things on my "Honey-Do" list that never seem to get done.
  1. That nail has been sticking out of the rain spouting for no less than 3 years.
  2. I really need to blow up the tires on my bicycle.
  3. The bushes could stand a trimming.
  4. I've got some flowers to transplant.
  5. Catch up on those old magazines.
  6. Straighten up the garage.
  7. Read that book.
  8. Clean the grill
Funny thing is, without television, these things that used to be avoided are now embraced.

Now, let's make no mistake about it. I'm not a busy-body kind of guy. I can waste time with the best of them. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I'd not only win the gold medal, you'd hear Bob Costas screaming "Oh, YES!! He stuck the landing!"

But, these days these little Honey-Do items just get checked off one after another. I'll be sitting on my back patio, and I'll remember something I've been meaning to do. Then, I do it. In the middle of completing that one, I might even start another one. In a couple of hours, I might even look back and see that I have been <gasp!> productive.

Today, at one point, I sat down on my back patio and couldn't think of a single thing that I had left on my Honey-Do list. I sat and I thought..., and I sat... and I thought... Almost Pooh-like, if you will.

After a few minutes, I just sat...and I sat... Hey.. this is alright... AAaaahhh...

TV Free Family Fun: Festivals and the Bubble

Last night, three-fourths of the TV Free Family (the blonde had a sleepover) went to the Park Street Festival. We got there pretty late and it looked like a good festival with good attendance, but it was crowded and pretty much the only thing left was the beer-drinking, music viewing crowd. We waited for Saving Jane to start playing, but it wasn't quite "Family Fun" and Shortie was looking a little hungry, so we walked down to Gordon Biersch for some food. By the way, if you go there... have the Blackened Mahi Fish Wrap. It was very good.

The festival got me thinking a bit, though. This was our second festival in 2 weeks, and it's been a while since we've gone to these. Last week the Arts Festival exposed the family to some great art, but much more interesting was the diversity of people there. The Park Street Festival also brought its own brand of diversity in festival goers. I think maybe a little bit more diversity in our experiences might be a good thing.

We live in what is often referred to (by fellow bubblers) as the "Dublin Bubble". Dublin is a fine community with good schools, shopping, and plenty of employment opportunities. Both the wife and I are employed nearby. This brings forth the Dublin bubble syndrome where you live almost entirely within the local community, and very soon you start to believe things like:

  • The only professional sport is Golf.
  • The automotive "Big 3" is Lexus, Porsche, and BMW.
  • Lobsters are grown in tanks at Kroger's.
  • A good dental plan (with orthodontia) is an entitlement.
oh yeah, and...
  • Dandelions (like Small Pox) have been eradicated in the modern world.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I can live where I do, but I'm starting to wonder whether we've become a little too comfortable. Maybe, we could use a little more exposure to a much more real world. In the coming weeks, I'm going to look for fun outside of "The Bubble".

Weekly Status: Week #3

Nothing much new to report on week 3. All systems normal.

Last year, we put in a nice big stone paver patio and pergola. We replaced an old deck that had seen better years. The patio probably doubles (or more) the square footage of the old deck.

The patio is great for sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine and breezes. We chat and watch the cats as they stalk (but can't quite catch) chipmunks, birds, and those little cottonwood fuzzy things that float by.

Kate mentioned that we might be in trouble if we didn't have a nice backyard room to sit in. Everyone else agreed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Resources for Managing your Family TV Time.

American Academy of Pediatrics Study:
Reducing Children's Television Viewing Time : A qualitative study of Parents and Their Children.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
WE CAN! "Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition"
Wean the Screen

A related website with some articles and eBooks:

Information about the TV Turnoff Week:
Wikipedia Article

Another Blog (much better than ours) about unplugging your kids...

All's quiet on the home front.

All's quiet on the home front. Got the AC fixed the other day. When the house hit an all time high of 80 deg. at 11 pm, I was done with the ceiling fans. As for the girls, they are dealing with the late afternoon blah's. Most of the time their ideas involve money on what they want to do. They've been asking me "What can I do to earn some money?" - mostly for the pool concessions (not like they couldn't pack their own food - it just doesn't taste the same evidently) or for the quick bike rides to some local establishments. Mike has had to explain to them (as noted in his blog) what is a payable chore. It's been nice having the van washed or the wheels cleaned (don't think I've done that in years). Could use the inside of the van swept too...wonder who will take that offer.

As for me, I've finished my 3rd book and getting ready to start the next. Trying to keep myself occupied in the evening and off to bed earlier than normal (still working on the latter). I'm glad that Mike created this blog site, we are finding out that he is such a great writer. I look forward to his entries and also the girls'.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Family Fun: Columbus Arts Festival and Soccer Tryouts

It was a slow weekend for the TV-Free Family. But, we still had the ability to squeeze some fun in...

Soccer Tryouts
For those that don't know us, we are a soccer family. Last week was tryouts, and this weekend was the annual madness that I like to call "The Cirque du Insanity" (sponsored by Verizon Wireless, no doubt). I have to imagine that at about 8am on this Saturday morning, the phone and text message networks are nearly brought to their knees by young soccer hopefuls and their crazy-ass parents trying to figure out who got offered what, who didn't get offered, who accepted, who declined, and who got offered, and declined, but should have accepted -- in short, who will play on our teams next year. Lest you think I'm criticizing, I am (sadly) one of the crazy-ass parents. And again, lest you think I'm criticizing, although the whole drama-filled process is horrible and no doubt scars all those involved for life, I cannot think of a way to improve it.

So what's fun about that? Nothing. I just had to get that off my chest.

Columbus Arts Festival
After the circus ended, the family took a leisurely, top-down drive down to the Columbus Arts Festival. Funny, apparently its been a few years since we've visited this annual favorite because we couldn't find it. The last time we were there, no doubt hauling wagons and umbrella strollers (yeah, it's been that long), it was down by the river. Well, apparently it was moved down to E. Broad Street. After meandering around the downtown area, Shortie spotted a big "A", and we found it. That girl has always had eagle eyes.

Here's my photojournal. For all you photogs out there -- the equipment I was using was my Blackberry Storm phone. No doubt, you're envious of my photography skill and creative use of lighting (the sun) and filters (over-priced festival draft beer).

The girls enjoyed some music and festival food...
The Ladies enjoying music and eats

There were people there..
Folks enjoying the Columbus Arts Festival 2009

There was a band stage, but even more fun were the sidewalk performers...
Sidewalk Entertainment 1Sidewalk Entertainment 1

And, we also saw a BMW Z4 that was being raffled. I've seen more than my share of great looking BMW cars (shameless plug), but this one was really sharp. Right when I was snapping the shot, a young lady step into the shot and partially obscured the car, but it's still a great shot...
A BMW Z4 obscured slightly by a passerby.

AAAAhhhhh... Art. You just can't find the words sometimes.

Weekly Status: Week #2

An interesting week at the TV-Free household. The following potpourri of thoughts is in no particular order (and may not be particularly interesting...but...).

Subconscious Remote Addiction
For the second time since this experiment started, this week I happily returned home from work, walked through the front door whistling, step over to the television and grabbed the remote, sat down on the couch and clicked it on. Only after the empty blue screen came up did it strike me that I was caught up in some subconscious, trance-like state. I've decided to track the occurrences of this anti-pattern in hopes that this data can be used to attain a government grant (hopefully in the 7-figure range) to study this malady.

Family-Fun Funding
The girls have begun to find that "fun" can sometimes be more pricey (depending on the type). We've enacted what I call the "Dad Subsidy" rules. The rules:
  • You need it? Dad Pays.
  • You want it? Girls Pay.
  • You want it, and dad wants it, too? Dad subsidizes the purchase with matching funds.
  • Mom wants it. Dad pays one way or the other.
At any rate, this has brought forth the need for what some people might call the prevailing wage. For basic, short chores around the house, the prevailing wage is the same one my father enacted: A roof. For bigger chores, I now pay $5/hour. Now before the cries of "CHEAP!" go up let me assure you that this $5/hour is tax-free, and by my calculations that comes to somewhere around a $28 per hour if it were a taxable wage... Pretty generous, I think.

Alternate Addictions
The kids computer is busy these days. One might suggest that the girls have replaced one addiction for another. Today, I developed a new strategy to deal with this alternate addiction. Remember those "basic, short chores" that I mentioned above. Well, there's always this discussion about "Whose turn is it?" around here. I have a new indicator that is always accurate as to which daughter should be assigned the chore. She's the one sitting in front of the computer. Cruel, yes...but fair, no?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tips with aiming practice!

Okay, so my dad and I went on a hiking trip to Zaleski to hike around the south trail. We were aiming for the campsite D, but along the way we found this like tucked away little campsite that we both really liked.

Tips on finding a new campsite:
  • Make sure you know that there is going to be NO thunderstoms, not even one coming.
  • Have some rain gear( just in case it rains )
  • When it rains make sure that you put your belongings in the tent so they don't get wet (we learned that the hard way).
  • And make sure the campsite isn't to high above ground.

So my mom packed this mix of fun stuff in a bag. Some things that were in it was raisins(eww), peanuts, m&m's, almonds and cashews. So my dad an i were sitting on this rock edge and we were really bored so we started throwing the raisins at a target. We both don't really like raisins so it wasn't a very great loss. When we were out of raisins we went onto cashews then peanuts etc... It was a fun trip except the rain which my dad explained in his blog.

Talk to you later


Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Fun: Episode IV, Zaleski Strikes Back

I almost titled this post "It wasn't supposed to rain."

I've been backpacking for a few years, and even in the bad weekends I felt like I was always prepared for bad weather, but this weekend was one of those where God says, "Yeah, you think you're all that, huh? Well..."

Kate and I went to Zaleski a few weeks ago, so it was Shortie's turn to go. I had checked the weather and there was like 20% chance of rain -- and even that 20% was waning throughout the week. So, I expected another great weekend hiker at Zaleski State Forest.

We got started early on Saturday and it was GORGEOUS. About 70 degrees, we took the South loop. I had a hot tip on a secluded, clandestine camping spot just perfect for Father/Daughter bonding. We actually found the campsite without much effort right where it was supposed to be, and given the number of Boy Scouts carrying coolers and folding chairs we past on the trail, I thought it would be a perfect spot for just us two.

As I surveyed the campsite, I remember thinking "This is great! Private and tucked away, it's absolutely perfect, except for it's on a high ridge and might be exposed to lightning." But, given the blue sky and the 3-day blue sky forecast. This was it! We set up camp.

  • At 9:30 pm, I was looking at a clear, evening sky with a bright half-moon shining brightly.
  • At 9:45 pm, It was dark, cloudy, and the sound of thunder was rolling in.
  • At 10:00pm, It was pitch black, and I spotted at least 4 cloud to ground lightning strikes in the distance.
  • At 10:05pm, Shortie and I left our campsite for lower ground in a hurry.
  • At 10:20pm, After 15 minutes of being drenched in the absolute darkness and weighing the odds of a lightning strike vs. a flashlight failure, we made our way back to the tent.
  • At 10:30pm, We buried ourselves in the tent and wished we were somewhere else. I found religion (again).
  • At 11:00pm, The storm started to wane. (And by wane I mean that the lightning flashed every 7 seconds, instead of every 3.)
This was a lesson learner. Lessons learned:
  1. Weather predictions are just that.
  2. If there's a "except for..." that follows your campsite assessment, heed it.
  3. Never leave your tent (if you've followed #2 -- you shouldn't want to leave it).
  4. "Water Resistant" means you can sweat on it -- and that's about it.
  5. Even if it means hiking half as far, take the gear that you need, and the gear that you may need.
  6. Raisins are more fun to throw than they are to eat. Maybe Sara will expand on this in her blog entry.
For the record, my young hiking buddy was very brave in the face of such scary circumstances. In the morning, I asked whether she had fun and she responded with a big "Yes! I love hiking. The storm wasn't very fun, though." That would be one of the first TV-Free Family Fun understatements of the summer. I wonder whether she'll ever want to go hiking with me again.

That storm sucked out loud! but, dang it! ... It wasn't supposed to rain.

Weekly Status: Week #1

Meh... So what? That's been about it. We haven't even really changed our pattern much. The lead up and slow reduction helped but for the most part, it's been without a whole lot of hoopla or drama.

There really isn't much to report this week. There's been some weather events, so I do miss the NOAA weather radar channel. Does anyone have a web source that's as good as the NOAA channel on TV? It seems a no brainer to me that the same feed that goes over cable would be available over the web, but I can't find it. Weather.com has the best I've found, but any and all help is appreciated.

The second thing that I've noticed is that I'm out of the loop with the NEWS. What airliner crash? What a bomb in Pakistan? Really? I haven't heard. But then again...

Aaaaannnywho.... Week #1 complete.